A Month In America: My Takeaways...

Posted by Paul Ebbs on with 5 Comments

Paul Ebbs in Last Planner Session

Wow! I am four weeks into my time in America. A lot has been done yet there is so much more to do. This month I have experienced more firsts than I can remember in my lifetime. I have caught lobster and sailed in San Diego Bay. I have sampled and enjoyed many craft beers (Alaskan Amber and Ballast Point Sculpin are nice) and fine food. Typical weather is a balmy 85oF, the hawks hunt for prey, the humming birds hum, the male mocking birds mock and the lonely male mocking bird sings all night long. Life is nice in sunny Southern California. It still feels like a dream.

In work, some days are long and thousands of miles have been covered going to San Diego, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Bakersfield and Seattle, but every day is fun and enjoyable. Planes, trains and automobiles have opened my mind to the Western part of America. Working at something one loves makes life fun and exciting. The beautiful scenery makes traveling pleasant.

Helping others to learn helps me to learn. Lean is certainly beginning to catch on over here. Some of the teams we are coaching are very new to Lean while others have more experience. The dynamics between different team members has been interesting to watch and observe. Last Planner® System coaching and training sessions have been engaging, educational and fun. Watching the teams develop conversations, reduce schedule durations and foster collaborative working relationships is food for thought. I also witnessed four enthusiastic construction teams’ final presentations following their three month Lean training and practical implementation programmes. Some great results as they begin their Lean journeys. Most pleasing was the vision of one of our clients to use lean as a tool for growth by investing in training for their staff when business has decreased. Upskilling now, in anticipation of a surge in demand, using the downtime to upskill not to lay employees off. Lean is being used as their business strategy to make them more competitive and provide more value for their customers.

It is clear that the appetite for Lean Design and Construction is growing fast in the US. The wide range of companies and organisations (Owners, Trades, Professional Bodies, Builders and Designers) that we are working with is a testament to that. The enthusiasm for Lean is very encouraging. Culturally, I do not see much difference between the US and Ireland. BIM is popular but not widespread. CPM is predominantly used for scheduling but Last Planner® is growing in popularity for design and construction teams. Owners are now asking contractors for Lean Project Delivery and I expect to see our workload increase as we engage with more clients.

Dave’s graduate class at San Diego State University has been really good. There was a guest lecture on BIM from Buddy Gessel of Baker Nowicki Design Studios and last week Dave delivered a very interactive class on Target Value Design and Choosing by Advantages. Lean Project Delivery using the Villego® and Parade of Trades® simulation is up next and the final assignment for the class is a collaboration project based on a new LEED® building at the University. Lots more fun ahead!

So what is my biggest takeaway of the month? Well, it has got to be ‘takeaways’ (“What did you learn?”). It was a concept I was familiar with but having seen how it focuses the learner to reflect on what they learned from lectures and simulation games, it is a technique I will definitely be incorporating into the development of my Lean coaching, training and facilitation skills.

More takeaways later.






Denis Umstot April 11, 2015 9:20pm

Nice summary Paul. We have enjoyed our time with you.

Vincent Gibson FM Consultancy Ireland April 12, 2015 7:16am

Hi Paul

Learning lean excellence is a journey and I note from your Blog that firms are on various stages of that journey. From my perspective the shorter time to market makes lean project delivery a major draw from the owners view point.
BIM is often talked about but likewise the BIM journey on this side of the Atlantic is only kicking off to any real effect..
Good luck with training and continue to share reports. It is good to share ideas and benchmark improvements. The FM element of the Lean process paradigm is where the value gets added.
Our AR 2015 conference is only two weeks away with leading AR / VR experts demonstrating the latest in wearable technologies

Paul Akers April 12, 2015 11:30am

Paul here is a very cool contractor company from California that is doing lean and I made a video of their efforts http://youtu.be/FPJAzY2xhcc

Adrian Mulvey April 19, 2015 12:41pm

Paul, let me know if you find yourself in Portland, CH2M is located there and Jeff Loeb is our Lean champion who developed the system for our company. I'm sure he would give some of time to a fellow lean traveller!

Williams Gadimoh April 26, 2015 11:04am

Hi Paul,

Excellent, well done more grease to your elbow Paul, please continue to share report, I am kin and very passionate about lean and its principles.